Speaking at a capacity Meet the CEO event for Australian School of Business alumni, the country's most senior economic official said Australia's quick response to the global financial crisis was a big contributor to avoiding the scale of the recession experienced in the United States.

"The essential lesson is that once you decide there really is a problem - don't waste time addressing it," said Dr Ken Henry, who was appointed Secretary to the Treasury in 2001 and sits on the Reserve Bank Board.

He said the Rudd government's immediate announcement of a $10.1 billion fiscal stimulation package was "timely, targeted and temporary".

"The government in a recession cannot tolerate inaction - the population cannot tolerate inaction on the part of the government. The government needed to do something."

Dr Henry, who is a UNSW economics graduate and an ASB Alumni Leader, confirmed that the upcoming review of Australia's taxation system will not recommend the removal of capital gains tax exemptions for the owner/occupier home.

The 18-month review that Dr Henry is overseeing has found the tax system needs to be "brought back to a more human scale".

"When you do international comparisons our system is not bad - it's not broken. It's just horrendously complex," he said.

Media contact: Marie Kelly | 9385 5895 | mariek@unsw.edu.au